The next generation of mariners has to be as fluent in using technology as they are at reading the wind, weather and waves, says Professor Malek Pourzanjani, chief executive officer of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI).
“Technology is all-pervasive, impacting on all aspects of economic and human activity. There is a need to ensure that South African and African maritime education and training meets the needs of the global maritime industry that has already embraced digitalisation.
“Training for seafarers, and other sectors of the maritime economy, must meet and go beyond current standards so that qualified South Africans can compete on the international maritime job market,” he says.
All sectors of the maritime industry are facing common challenges with training “Generation Alpha,” who will make far greater use of technology than any generation before it.
Training institutions have to offer simulator-based competency assessments, combined with “blended learning,” which is a combination of on-line and classroom courses.
Marine manufacturing companies will need to build or retrofit craft which take full advantage of digitisation, which will connect them to the Internet of Things (IoT), remote monitoring and even autonomous movement.
For this a new generation of tech-savvy seafarers, naval architects, designers, boat-builders and artisans will be needed.
Regulators are having to adapt to the changes as well, in order to make it possible for shipping lines and fishing fleets to optimise the use of digital technology.
“Then there is the pressing need for mariners to be trained for the prevention of cyber-attacks,” says Pourzanjani.
“But, perhaps the biggest challenge of all is to attract young people to the industry,” he adds.
The challenges and solutions will be discussed at the first Maritime Education Training (MET) conference, which is being hosted by SAIMI from 14 to 17 November 2017 in Cape Town.
“The aim of the conference is to find maritime education and training solutions for South Africa that are relevant to local conditions and based on international best practice in a global industry,” he says.
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